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Is it possible to convert oil fired burner to electric heat?

ALH_4 Member Posts: 1,790
Electricity is almost guaranteed to cost far more than oil. It sounds like an investment in reducing your heat loss would pay off much better. A new oil boiler may help, depending on the age of your current boiler.

To compare what electricity would cost compared to oil:

Take your price per kWh in cents and multiply by 2.93 to get dollars per million btu

Take your price per gallon of oil in dollars multiply by 7.14 and divide by the boiler efficiency (80% would be 0.80 for the calculation) to get dollars per million btu.

More than likely, electrical resistance heat would cost 2 to 3 times as much as oil.

My advice is to invest in windows and insulation first. Thermostatic radiator valves may be an energy saving retrofit to your radiators by keeping certain rooms cooler. If the boiler is quite old it might be wise to replace it, probably with a new oil boiler. Have you had your boiler serviced lately?


  • Tammy_2
    Tammy_2 Member Posts: 1
    Oil Boiler


    I live in a 4800 sq ft house built in 1930. We currently have an oil boiler which heats hot water for radiators. The oil is costing about 1000.00 per month. Is it possible to convert the oil boiler to electric to heat the hot water? I have no idea if this is even possible or if it would save money or not. Any ideas?
  • Brad White
    Brad White Member Posts: 2,398
    I agree with Andrew

    But if the goal is to get your heating bills into the range of the GDP of Lichtenstein, in most areas, yes, go electric. You can use your meter as a fan too :)

    All kidding aside, do the calculations Andrew suggests but also tighten up your structure, regardless.
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"

    -Ernie White, my Dad
  • bruce_21
    bruce_21 Member Posts: 241

    Air infiltration is the biggest part of the heat load in older houses, so people often get a case of sticky foam and have at it. There can be problems though. Boilers, bath fans, range hoods, etc. all suck air out. That air must come from somewhere. If you get the place really tight that necessary air can be forced to enter down the fireplace chimney or other flue. This can lead to carbon monoxide entering especially down the fireplace chimney but also can come in the boiler flue when the big new 600 cfm range hood kicks in. There is a need to think about the whole system of your house.
  • bill nichols
    bill nichols Member Posts: 4
    find the big problem

    the ammount of energy that you are pumping in (and out of) the house seems excessive.
    Aside from the obvious, which is replacing the windows and insulating inside the walls, I believe that there are other problems.
    Look for air leaks into the attic, like a louvre thats stuck open. Check the basment windows, maybe crawl space ventilation. Then take a look at the boiler. Is it short cycling?
    Probably the best thing to do is to get an energy audit. In my area the utility company will do one. Some home inspectors will do an infa-red analysis.
    Good luck
  • Weezbo
    Weezbo Member Posts: 6,232
    Tammy , Though that is a large home...

    unless you have a huge air handler dedicated for 100K BTU,
    that may occasionally kick on every now and again,...i honestly believe that you need to consider an additional increase in the Roof / ceilings Insulation ,..as the very first place to start.

    then the next thing to seriously consider is the windows having a storm panel or window quilt...some rather "Beachy"

    zip fix for windows is the use of a clear material that is looking like Saran wrap that is tacked to some Kite stick type frame then tape sealed over the window ,and a heat gun breezed over it to "Shrink Wrap" or stretch the panel tight.

    try these things first. that is not lost dollars to the oil company.
    some older homes ,(not more than 40 years old), have sparse insulation in the roof, walls, rims, perimeter below grade and subsurface ....

    so, the lid or roof is usually the very first best return on your dollars. it still needs to ventilate properly so the way to make that happen is using cardboard to keep air circulating through the soffits into the roof and out across the gable ends and crown roof vents.

  • Dave_4
    Dave_4 Member Posts: 1,405
    oil vs electric

    I agree that in most areas, electric is more expensive, but it is a heck of a lot closer than it used to be. Around here, oil is about 2.70-$2.80, and electric is between $.09 and $.11 on a variable plan. So electric is still more, but nowhere near the 2-3 times more that it was 4 or 5 years ago. Throw in a yearly service for oil (a must do imo) and it is even closer especially in a small house. The houses with electric thermal storage heating that take advantage of the night rates are actually beating oil for cost in my area for the first time I can remember.

    I'm not a fan of electric heat by any means (unless powering a GHSP) but I see the 2-3 times more expensive number thrown around a lot and it's just not the case any more, except in a few markets where power is very costly.
  • Brad White
    Brad White Member Posts: 2,398
    I used to think that.

    When gas was $0.80 per therm and electricity $0.10 per kWH, it worked out to about 2.5 to 3.0:1 electricity/gas on a cost per net BTU basis.

    Our electric rate has since doubled to near 20 cents per kWH and gas is take your pick. The fact that at least here in New England much of our local electricity is made via gas turbines, recently converted over the past ten years, means that gas price increases, like most energy, is built in eventually. With fuel surcharges, darn near immediately.

    I will have to crunch the numbers soon to see how close, but the narrowing of the spread was regrettably temporary.
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"

    -Ernie White, my Dad
  • Dave_4
    Dave_4 Member Posts: 1,405
    Good point

    It is highly region dependent. Since a pretty good percentage of people on this board seem to come from the New England/NY area the 2x cost for electric may still hold true. I used to think I had expensive power, but according tho this data at http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_a.html my cost is about average nationwide.

    Lots of good energy price info on the EIA website - here's a heating oil summary: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/hopu/hopu.asp

    I don't tend to pay a lot of attention to natural gas prices since it is not available in my town, but over a longer period of time I would imagine it tracks electric and oil prices as you said.
  • joel_19
    joel_19 Member Posts: 931

    Tammy where are you located???? if in N.E. that is a bad bad idea. i don't sell oil so have no bias but i can tell you that people with electric homes seek us out all the time for conversion to oil

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